Tara VanDerveer has been a trailblazer for women’s basketball in nearly every way imaginable.
Her accolades and career accomplishments as a head coach are extremely impressive on paper. She is a well-known name and recognizable face for everyone in women’s basketball — and even outside of it. The number of people she inspires daily by just being who she is (a legend) cannot be counted.
For someone so genuinely admirable, it makes sense why the Women’s Sports Foundation would name their new fund in her honor. The Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching will provide opportunities to aspiring female coaches across all collegiate sports. Starting in the 2019-20 academic year, each ‘VanDerveer Fellow’ will receive a stipend, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities.
The advancement of women in any career is a hard-hitting one, but it’s especially prominent in the coaching field. According to an NCAA study by Rachel Stark, today women coach fewer than half (40%) of women’s teams. In 1972, they coached 90%.
Efforts like this are necessary, not to mention exciting, for those numbers to shift in a favorable direction. Will it happen overnight? Nope. Will it be the end-all solution for grooming and funneling more women into the coaching business? Nope.
But it will certainly help shape the future.
The power of what we ‘see’ is too often underestimated in sports culture. When the next generation turns on their tv’s or attends a women’s basketball game in person, they’ll see that the people sitting at the front of the bench are people that look like them. The more women we see excel as head coaches and the more we see in general is a powerful method of inspiring other women to do the same.
Although we are witnessing, more than ever before, women shattering barriers as coaches and executives, why stop there? If you can see it, you can be it.
The Women’s Sports Foundation and VanDerveer get that.